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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Keppel Prince expands wind tower production with 50 new jobs at Portland

The focus on boosting renewables in Victoria through the VRET by the Andrews Labor Government is already boosting regional jobs in Portland at the Keppel Prince Engineering wind tower fabrication plant.

The Andrews Labor Government is assisting Portland engineering and manufacturing firm Keppel Prince Engineering with a $1.97 million expansion of the company's wind tower fabrication facility. This will create 50 new jobs to add to the 80 local wind tower manufacturing jobs.

Keppel Prince is Australia’s largest, and Victoria’s only, wind tower manufacturer. The wind tower division currently manufactures 110 wind towers per year, supplying them for wind farm projects across the country.

The expansion will allow Keppel Prince to achieve production efficiencies and reduce current bottlenecks within its fabrication lines. New machinery will be installed to deliver productivity gains, reduce operating costs and allow total production to increase to 175 towers per year making it more competitive against imported towers.

The boost comes after about 100 workers at Keppel Prince were made redundant in October 2014 due to the wind-back in the Federal RET under the Federal Abbott government, and onerous planning regulations placed on siting of wind farms in Victoria by the state Baillieu Liberal National Party Government.

Minister for Regional Development, Jaala Pulford made the announcement in Portland on Friday. “Keppel Prince’s expansion project will create 50 new jobs and safeguard 80 existing jobs. That’s great news for the local economy and the community.” she said.

“Investing in clean energy, protecting our environment and creating new jobs go to the heart of the Andrews Labor Government – that’s why we’re proud to back this significant announcement for Portland.”
said Ms Pulford.

With Victoria's Renewable Energy Target (VRET) about to get going to stimulate investment in wind farms and solar farms, the boost to production capacity at Keppel Prince comes at the right time.

Energy and Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio added, “Regional businesses are a vital part of the Victorian economy and will be at the heart of our transition to more renewable energy generation. The Government’s VRET scheme will deliver thousands of jobs just like these in Portland over the next 10 years.”

The announcement was strongly supported by the Yes to Renewables campaign.

“Expanded turbine tower production at Keppel Prince is welcome news for Portland and all Victorians who want to see more renewable energy in our state,” said Pat Simons, Friends of the Earth’s renewable energy spokesperson.

“The move will create good jobs and shows industry is confident legislation to enshrine the Victorian Renewable Energy Targets of 25 per cent by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025 will pass the Parliament.” said Simons.

The Victorian Climate Change Act recently passed both houses of parliament but was opposed by Liberal and National Party MPs, a sad reflection that these parties are still using the climate issue for short term politics rather than working for the long term benefit of all Victorians.

“Local MPs such as Simon Ramsay and Roma Britnell can support more jobs and investment by voting for the Victorian Renewable Energy Target when it goes to a vote in coming months.” said Simons.

Unfortunately the Victorian Liberal Party MPs under Opposition leader Matthew Guy have declared war on the Victorian Renewable Energy Target vowing to abolish it if elected in 2018. This is despite public opinion showing overwhelming support for more renewables and climate action in Victoria.

The Victorian Renewable Energy Target is expected to drive 5,400MW of new generation capacity installed in the grid over the next decade. Building these renewables will create up to 11,000 jobs mostly in regional areas and attract $2.5 billion in investment across the state.

Key cross bench MP in the Legislative Council for Western District, James Purcell (Local Jobs 1st), supported the Victorian Climate Change Act and has also flagged his support for the Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) legislation. He has been highly supportive of growing the wind tower work at Keppel Prince Engineering.

Leigh Ewbank, Act on Climate coordinator for Friends of the Earth said, “Climate jobs are coming to Portland no thanks to the Turnbull government, whose failure to act on climate change leaves Victorian communities exposed to increasing heatwaves, droughts, bushfires, and storms.“


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